Hargeisa, 21 July 2009 (Somalilandpress) – The year is 1988. At the height of the brutal assault by forces of the former Somali dictator Gen. Mohammad Siad Barre against the people of Somaliland, MiG fighters bomb civilian targets and thousands of bodies of dead and wounded litter the streets of major cities. Panicked survivors flee in droves. And, for a two-year old little girl, life will never be the same. Not even decades after the war ends.
Just one stray bullet disfigures her face and alters the course of her life. A small amount of money – so trivial to you, so very significant to her – could reconstruct not only her broken face, but also her wounded dignity.
Dear Reader: Could you spare a buck? Do you have some loose change?
Her name is Ayaan Osman Mohammad. In 1988 as her family fled Burao, the second largest city of Somaliland, tragedy struck. One stray bullet shattered her face near her nose and tore a big hole through her right cheek. The bullet exposed her teeth and left Ayaan’s face horribly disfigured. The devastation of Ayaan’s trauma on her family is beyond belief; equally sad is the inadequacy of the medical treatment available.
That Ayaan survived at all is thanks to international aid organizations working in neighboring Ethiopia, but they could do little for her.
Like a Ghost from Somaliland’s Past
Today, Somaliland people enjoy freedom and peace as the terror of the 80s fades from memory. But, for Ayaan, the brutal war is not yet over. Ayaan is not free. Not yet. Because the bullet removes a large area of her cheek and half of her nose, Ayaan must always hide her face in shame.
Somalilanders celebrate their nation’s independence every year on May 18th. Flag-waving citizens pour into the streets and crowds cheer both in the country and abroad. But Ayaan stays at home, ashamed to participate, like an unwelcome ghost from the nation’s past.
Just like any other proud Somaliland citizen, she perhaps dances to the tunes of the celebrations that the generous wind blows towards her house. She peeks through drapes on her window to witness the parades and the jubilant citizens dancing on the streets of Somaliland.
On one hand, she feels ecstatic that finally her nation is free from the tyranny of the 80’s. On the other hand, she perhaps whispers to herself, “I too was part of the struggle and severely wounded when I was a toddler… yet I am the one who is not yet free, living with the scars of the war. Living in shame as if I have disgraced myself… and hiding my face to avoid people staring at me like I am a monster. Oh my country people, have you forgotten about me? I too want to celebrate with you.”
“Help me to heal the wounds of the war and set me free like you so I could live with dignity and not struggle simply to eat and drink is all I ask. Luckily, so many of you are out there and the fact is: one dollar donation from each person is all I need,” she may add.
Just One Dollar
An estimated one million Somalis are scattered all over Europe, Asia, and North America. About half a million of these expatriates hail from Somaliland. Now, the fact is: if only each of us donates one dollar – Ayaan could be free from the trauma and the scars of the war.
Dear reader because of Ayaan’s plight we are appealing to you: could you spare a buck? Of course, the more you donate the better; but beyond a shadow of a doubt if each of us donates a buck, more than Ayaan’s medical expenses will be collected, enough money to help even other victims. She will have the facial reconstruction surgery that she so urgently needs.
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Of course, it is not only Somalilanders and Somalis who could assist Ayaan. The fact is friends of Ayaan from different nationalities have already donated over 900 Pounds as I write this paper. Anyone could chip in to help cover the expense of Ayaan’s facial surgery and help to alleviate her suffering.
Ayaan’s facial surgery fundraising is spearheaded by honorable Edna Adan Ismail – the former Somaliland Foreign Minister. In the following video clip, Ms. Edna appeals to all of us to help Ayaan. Here is the clip: www.helpayaan.org (Ms. Edna is also the founder of the only maternity hospital in Somaliland: Edna Hospital. www.ednahospital.org )
How could you help?
Surely, you could help Ayaan by contributing some donations but more important taking the lead – that is, spearheading the fundraising campaign in your family, neighbors, among your colleagues and friends, and local business communities will for sure expedite the fundraising process. You should also distribute printed copies of this article with Ayaan’s picture or e-mail them to anybody you know as to show him/her what Ayaan goes through daily. If you and I could forward jokes to our friends and acquaintances, so could we send this article to the folks in our e-mail list.
What is more wonderful than viewing the pictures of Ayaan’s face fully reconstructed? Equally, wonderful is the fact that you raised some of the money. You stood by Ayaan; you held her hand when she needed you the most; and you didn’t turn your back on her suffering. Every time you devoured your favorite dish, you remembered that Ayaan doesn’t have the privilege to enjoy her meal because of her injury and you could have done something about it.
To receive a tax deduction receipt for your donation, visit: http://www.justgiving.com/helpayaan/
You could simply use your credit card to donate.
You could also send donations through registered Somali money transfer agencies such as, Dahabashiil and Qaran Express. Two accounts are set up on behalf of Ayaan’s facial surgery fundraisings: Dhabashiil account is: HRGD14292; and Qaran Express is: 1380.
Finally, the incredible determination that it took us to rebuild our country could be applied to reconstruct Ayaan’s face. We cannot permit the brutal war of the 80’s holding Ayaan hostage while we stroll freely in the streets of our country. Let freedom ring for Ayaan; let her be free, once and for all.
Dear reader, please don’t just skim through this article and walk away from Ayaan’s plight; be brave and do something, not tomorrow, not the day after, but now. She cannot wait for another twenty years for surgery. Remember: none of us are immune to the tragedy that hit Ayaan. What happened to her could happen to any of us – at any minute, anywhere in the world.
Author’s contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions regarding Ayaan’s case: email@example.com